Sony Electronics U.S. president Mike Fasulo

Sony used an elaborate New York City press event to launch the new flagship of its Alpha professional level lineup in the A9 mirrorless full-frame camera.

Promoted as the ultimate tool for professional photographers and photo journalists, the $4,498 suggested retail A9 camera (body only, shipping in June) offers a number of revolutionary features including silent burst shooting at speeds up to 20 fps with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure; 4K Ultra HD video capture at up to 30 fps internally and an advanced AF/AE system capable of 60 frame calculations per second.

Add to that fact that the camera is “half the size and weight of other cameras in its class.”

At the same time, Sony introduced a new FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master telephoto lens (available in July at a $2,499 suggested retail) with reduced size and weight to complement the diminutive A9 body.

Read more about Sony’s A9 mirrorless full-frame interchangeable lens camera after the jump:

The camera also features a high-performance 24.2 megapixel full-frame (35mm frame size) stacked CMOS sensor, 4K Ultra HD video recording at up to 30 fps internally; includes dual high-speed UHS-II SD card slots enabling shooting up to 241 continuous (compressed) RAW images or 362 JPEG images; Ethernet connectivity; and shutter speeds up to 1/32,000 using a blackout-free Quad VGA 3.7m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder.

Image processing inside the A9 is said to be 20x faster than previous full-frame Alpha cameras. All this adds muscle to Sony’s digital imaging efforts, which NPD revealed last week pushed the company into the No. 2 market share position for full-frame cameras for the first time.

“We are not taking this for granted,” Mike Fasulo, Sony Electronics U.S. president said. “We will continue to earn your loyalty by listening, asking questions and delivering innovative tools.”

Other high-performance features in the A9 include: 693 phase-detect AF points and a 5-axis in-body image stabilization system with five-stops of camera shake correction.

The camera also includes a 3-inch 1.44m-dot titling touchscreen LCD monitor; BIONZ X image processor, a new battery with more than double the use time of the previous A7 flagship model and a lightweight magnesium alloy body.

Sony said the camera’s light sensitivity range is ISO 100-51,200 expandable to ISO 50-204,800. The A9 also is capable of shooting 14-bit uncompressed RAW images.

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For 4K video capture the A9 offers full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 6K resolution information. This is then oversampled to produce 4K images. For 1080p video capture, the A9 will capture footage at up 120 fps.

Accessories for the A9 will include: a vertical grip that doubles battery life and enables on-camera battery charging via USB; a multi-battery adaptor kit offering external power supply capability for four Z series batteries, and includes two packs of batteries; a grip extension for greater in-hand security; an eye -piece cup; a quick-charge (2.5 hour) battery charger: and screen protect glass sheet that is compatible with touch-screen operation on the tilting LCD monitor.

                                                Mike Fasulo holds the Sony A9 with FE 100-400 lens.

Although the A9 is targeted a professional camera lovers, Sony is using its technology advancements to attract consumers to its less-expensive full-format and APS-C censor cameras, Fasulo said.

The A9 launch event included a panel of award-winning professional photographers who all gave testimony on the performance benefits offered in the A9. Many of the features, such as a toggle control for focus point positioning, were added at their and other users’ suggestions.

As tends to happen, most of those features start out in expensive high-performance models and quickly work their way into more mainstream offerings introduced shortly thereafter. Stay tuned.


By Greg Tarr


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